Thursday, October 9, 2014

Riverfront Park Bike Repair Station is Open! Other Good News and Bad News

Getting ready to pump up a tire
There's a workstand with tools and a tire pump.

It's located right by the spash pad and dock, hopefully with enough visibility that vandalism won't be a problem - though it's also a little off the way for more serious recreational riders who might not find it from the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. 

Earlier in the summer:
Fresh concrete for bike repair station at Riverfront Park
If it's successful, maybe more can be installed around town.

In any case it will serve those in Riverfront and Wallace Parks well.

More Good News

(This has nothing to do with bikes!)
Ok, so the burst water pipe and subsequent flooding is not good news. But the recovery appears to offer Wild Pear an opportunity to enhance the restoration of the 1880 Adolph Bock.

They talk about taking out the tin ceiling, numbering each panel, and then restoring it in order and say
We are committed to doing everything it takes to restore it to its historic standards, and make it as good, if not better, than it was before
I mean, they're embracing the preservation role with relish!

That's a cheery thought.

Now, the not-so-good news

Yesterday was Walk+Bike to School Day, and Salem schools and the School District have not much embraced the occasion.

It was also the date of James Sallis's talk, "Rx for Better Health: Walking, Biking, and Moving."

He gave a private talk for industry professionals at ODOT and later a public talk.

Here's a clip from the private talk:

Public health professor Dr. James Sallis is currently speaking with a group of transportation and other professionals about how "we spend a lot of $ in this country to avoid being active" and how we can help change this through improved community design. Our designs should consider health impacts, because to quote The Princess Bride, "if you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything."

The coincidence of Walk+Bike to School Day was surely a missed marketing opportunity. Imagine a city-wide festival of walking keyed to Sallis' talk!

One person observed at the later public talk that "there was some good discussion by the panel and the audience about planning and development issues in Salem."

But the City Staff and planning professionals at these talks are also engaged in actual studies and decision-making.

There is, for example, a "West Salem Business District Action Plan," being conducted in the shadow of the proposed Salem River Crossing. The relevant question isn't about "good discussion" in the theoretical abstract, but how talks like this might actually redirect or influence actual planning decisions. Will the talk make a difference in the West Salem Business District Action Plan?

How about the Salem River Crossing itself? I mean, we're planning on spending $500 million on "avoiding being active" - so is anyone with decision-making power going to connect the dots and say, hey, maybe spending $500 million on a giant bridge and highway is a bad idea?

Our largest health care institution planning a giant parking lot with the City's blessing. Is anyone going to connect the dots there?

There's more than a little bit of transportation-industrial complex at ODOT and the City, and are talks like this structured in such a way that the critique can be transformative and not merely a cheery expression of hope and good intentions that fundamentally leaves things the way they are?

It's increasingly difficult not to be cynical about the way these things work.

We can get some small things done, like the workstand and pump, some medium things done like the Union Street Railroad Bridge and the Minto Bridge, but we are missing out big-time on the big things and the system things. It has seemed impossible, for example, to connect the Union Street Railroad bridge to the wider street system, to anything on the other side of Wallace and Commercial. (Work on Commercial is scheduled for 2017, eight full years after the bridge opened. Nothing is planned for Wallace yet.)

We will know that talks like this make a difference when they start to inform systems and individual development approvals.

So far, those seems a ways off.

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